Friday, May 9, 2014

Julie's Review: The Vacationers

Author: Emma Straub
Series: None
Publication Date: May 29, 2014
Publisher: Riverhead
Pages: 304
Obtained: Publisher
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: A powerful novel about what it means to be married and in a family.>
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab!
Summary: An irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family's two-week stay in Mallorca. For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated. This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

Review: No family is easy to live in. We all have our quirks, we all have those things we wished weren't true about those we are closest too. So imagine going on vacation with all of that plus some life long friends. This is what occurs in Emma Straub's beautiful and realistic The Vacationers. What Ms. Straub does extremely well is write a realistic family. One with faults, secrets and a lifetime of hurt and misunderstandings. Then she puts them in close quarters for 14 days and lets it all simmer and then boil over. Each one of the Post's bring something to the table: Franny is keeping something to herself, Jim is wracked with guilt, Bobby isn't all that he seems and Sylvia just wants to be a grown up. Whatever that means. She's ready to shed her skin and begin anew.

The Post's aren't the only one on this vacation, Franny has invited along her dearest friend Charlie and his husband, Lawrence. Charlie is keeping a secret from Lawrence but it's not as detrimental as he thinks. The other secret Charlie is keeping is the bigger one and it never comes to be revealed but to us readers. I found that most disappointing. I feel that Ms. Straub really could have had an excellent secondary storyline within that secret.

I loved how each of them came to terms with their situation, big or small. I loved the little and big life lessons in the novel. The novel could have taken so many different turns and had a different ending, but the ending was pretty much perfect. You knew that no matter what the Post Family was going to be ok.

For fans of family dramas, The Vacationers is for you to open and enjoy.



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